A high energy piping (HEP) program is important for the safety of plant personnel and reliability of the generating units. HEP weldment failures have resulted in serious injuries, fatalities, extensive damage of components, and significant lost generation. Since creep/fatigue is a typical failure mechanism, the probability of HEP failures increases with unit age. The main steam (MS) piping system is one of the most critical HEP systems. Weldment failures are typically due to a combination of high temperature creep and fatigue. Industry best practices include (1) the evaluation of historical operating conditions; (2) examinations of critical weldments to reveal nondestructive examination (NDE) indications, microstructural material damage, and detailed geometry data; (3) hot and cold walkdowns to document the field piping system behavior and anomalies; (4) simulation of as-found piping displacements to estimate actual stresses; (5) ranking of critical weldments; (6) recommendations for support repairs and adjustments; (7) recommendations for future examinations; and (8) remaining life estimates at critical weldments. Appropriate examinations, condition assessments, and recommendations for corrective actions are provided as a cost-effective life management process to maintain the piping system integrity. This paper provides examples demonstrating that the girth welds ranked below the top five to six welds are subject to significantly less applied stress and have substantially more creep/fatigue life than the top ranked welds. Hanger adjustments, along with selective identification, NDE, and possible repairs of top ranked welds provide substantially greater life to MS piping systems. Some fitness-for-service and risk-based programs for MS piping system girth weldments recommend a stress evaluation using typical pressure vessel or boiler tube calculations, in which the hoop stress is the principal stress. In some cases, the effective weldment stresses can be more than 50% above the hoop stress, resulting in the estimated remaining lives less than 15% of the life estimates using the hoop stress methodology. Some HEP life management programs may vaguely discuss using the principal stress based on a finite element analysis of the piping system. These principal stress values may be based on a conventional as-designed piping stress analysis. In the majority of the as-found piping stress analyses performed by the author, the maximum as-found stresses are substantially greater than the maximum conventional as-designed piping stresses. In the example case study, the maximum effective weldment stress was more than three times greater than the estimated as-designed piping stress at the same location. This paper illustrates than an as-designed piping stress analysis will typically overestimate the life of an HEP system and typically not predict the locations of maximum creep/fatigue damage.

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